We need to put our laptops down, silence our phones and start our lives over. Call it analog summer.
In the early days of the pandemic, I gratefully wrote on our screens that kept us connected when things were locked. When the outside world stood still, many of us kept working, socializing and learning (something) on ââour screens.
But when the benchmark for easing restrictions changed from “two weeks to flatten the curves” to “not until nobody dies,” the screens became something completely different: a kind of prison.
I was pretty pro-screen in the Before Times. When parents told me they didn’t let their kids watch TV or play video games, I wondered why they were making life unnecessarily difficult. “Sometimes children have to go out,” I told them. “Screens are fine (in moderation)!”
But Americans generally fight with moderation, and the pandemic has led us to trample on that ancient virtue and set it on fire for good measure.
Our overuse of screens equals eating ice cream for three meals a day – we need a serious salad break. We’ve gotten bored and, yes, fat, and we have to get off the screens before we forget how to deal with real life.
It’s June 2021 and I’m still getting invited to FaceTime Happy Hours and Zoom conferences. Friends tell me they keep doing online dating events. I watched my elementary school in fifth grade on YouTube.
So many have forgotten how to function in the real world, and it shows. Persistent masking in zero risk outdoor situations is a symptom of our collective mania, but it’s more than just that.
When the country opened there were articles about how people found it difficult to get used to their normal lives again. In the beginning it was easy and understandable. But then a darker dimension emerged. People do not feel able to socialize. The “cave syndrome” entered the dictionary and describes Americans who seemingly cannot leave their homes.
We became zombies in front of screens and forgot how to really connect with each other. As the Post’s editor Sohrab Ahmari states in his new book âThe Unbroken Threadâ, we humans are social animals and âour sociality depends on bodies, on embodied experienceâ.
This summer we need to reclaim that important but neglected aspect of what makes us all human.
Keep your phone as far away as possible. When you get the chance to return to your office, take her. Stop writing so much. Make an effort to have real, face-to-face conversations.
If you’re single, get out of the apps and go out as much as you can. Find someone on the other side of the room and smile at them. There’s a frisson you’ll never feel while mopping. Revel in it. It’s summer in town, go out and find a girl. Do you remember dancing? Find somewhere to do this and leave your phone behind.
Send your children to camp. Don’t listen to the hysterical director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who doesn’t send her son. Children have to live. You have to be together. You have to learn to work together. We’re going to see a real increase in social disorder in children because of what we’ve done to them this year. Try turning it around for your kids. Give them the summer that you remember from your own childhood. Send them outside and don’t leave them until the street lights come on.
See old friends. Make plans for dinner. Go for cocktails. Take a vacation. Reconnect with people and relearn how friendship works in real life.
We pretended that stopping our lives for COVID was a âbreakâ but it turned out to be harder to hit âplayâ again than we might have imagined. We have to work on it. We have to get out of our sweatpants, get dressed and go live again.